NFL headline of the week: Brett Favre Isn’t Coming Back!
Maybe the Rams were just kidding about trying woo the Gunslinger, as they now claim, but here’s a joke approximately as funny as a Jay Leno monologue: the Rams are starting Kellen Clemens this Monday night. Tim Tebow, Vince Young and JaMarcus Russell certainly aren’t laughing – in fact, they’ve gotta be downright depressed they can’t get a gig at a time when the level of quarterbacking has become a punchline for roughly half pro football’s teams. As I tweeted a couple weeks ago…
On a planet with seven billion people, it’s stunning and sad there aren’t 32 guys who are good at being an NFL QB.
— Dave Dameshek (@Dameshek) October 13, 2013
It’s a fascinating paradox here in the Era of the Quarterback League. For just a moment, though, let’s set aside all this talk about quarterbacking has-beens and never-weres and focus on the glorious here-and-now. Let’s likewise pass on the opportunity to target those “elite” QBs who wilt under pressure and instead celebrate one man’s unfaltering greatness. With a nod of thanks to Favre’s (mercifully) brief reemergence, it occurs to me we’ve recently been ignoring the guy who took over for him five-and-a-half seasons ago.
Aaron Rodgers is the best. Not just the NFL’s best quarterback, but its best player. And if things break right over the next half-decade, he’ll go down as the best player of all-time. That’s right, I said it – and I’ve been saying it for three years now.
He’s already got one ring, and might have two if his receivers hadn’t suffered a severe case of the dropsies against the Giants in the 2011 playoffs. He’s led a flawed Packers team – bad o-line, shoddy defense, injury-ravaged roster – to two straight NFC North titles and has ‘em well-positioned for third going into this weekend.
Cynics may point to the fact Rodgers has benefited from working with a sharp offensive mind in Mike McCarthy, but there aren’t many Hall of Fame QBs who didn’t work with a great coach (Montana had Walsh, Staubach had Landry, Marino had Shula, Fouts had Coryell, Brady has Belichick, Brees has Payton, and so on).
Those cynics might also give credit to Rodgers’ receivers, but – while it’s true Green Bay has had relatively little turnover among their passcatchers since 2008 – I’d submit they owe their success to him much more than the other way around. Look at Greg Jennings’ 2013 stats for proof. While you’re at it, ask Jordy Nelson and James Jones what they think. Better yet, let’s wait ‘til next season and see how many TDs Jones scores if he chooses to sign elsewhere. While Tom Brady has struggled to find a rhythm with his young receivers this season, Rodgers made Jarrett Boykin – Jarrett Boykin?! – look like a star last Sunday.
We excuse Peyton and Brady for bad showings when their protection breaks down, but Rodgers has thrived despite of playing behind one of the league’s ten worst lines for the last few years. We use Romo and Eli to debate the importance of stats vs winning, but Rodgers has consistently put up monster stats and won. We forgive Big Ben because the Steelers lack a running game, but (until Eddie Lacy came around) Rodgers was the Packers running game. Brees and Ryan aren’t held accountable when their defenses don’t hold up their end of the bargain, but Rodgers went 15-1 in 2011 on team with the league’s 32nd-ranked D.
His annoying insurance ads notwithstanding, Rodgers still seems somehow under the radar – but don’t blame that lack of attention on the small town in which he plays. Favre proved the ability to gin up plenty of melodrama there. Maybe he just makes it all look too easy. After all, conflict is the key to good drama, and Rodgers provides us with very little. Whatever the case, I’ll say this one more time: Aaron Rodgers is the best. He’s been the best for a few years now, and he might stay that way forever.
And with that cleared up, let’s get back to picking apart all the other guys.
…But first, let’s get to the Week Eight picks, detailed further on what was a spectacular 200th episode of the Dave Dameshek Football Program, featuring Steelers safety Ryan Clark.
WARNING: do not continue reading if you don’t want to know the outcome of this weekend’s games.
(9-5 last week, 1-0 this week, 69-40 on the season)
R. Bush: 162 yds/scrimmage, TD
A. Smith: 297 yds, 2 TDs
F. Gore: 119 yds, TD
R. Gronkowski: 122 yds, 2 TDs
M. Colston: 103 yds, TD
M. Vick: 450 yds/scrimmage, 4 TDs
L. Bell: 128 yds, TD
G. Bernard: 42-yd TD run
S. Jackson: 82 yds, 2 TDs
D. Thomas: 158 yds, 2 TDs
A. Rodgers: 428 yds, 3 TDs
Seattle D: 7 turnovers
Enjoy Week Eight, everybody! Good luck to your team (unless they’re playing my team).